ESP LTD AS-1 Review & Prices

ESP LTD AS-1 Review
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  • From ESP LTD's 2016 Signature series
  • Alex Skolnick Signature
  • Made in Indonesia
  • 6 strings
  • 24.75"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Flamed Maple top
  • Mahogany body
  • 3Pc Mahogany neck
  • Pau Ferro fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 (Humbucker/Passive)
  • Neck pickup: Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N (Humbucker/Passive)
  • 2 volume and 1 tone Speed knobs
  • 3-way Switch
  • Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece bridge
  • Custom U Set neck
  • 22 XL Jumbo frets
  • Grover tuners
  • Weight between 8.7lbs (3.9kgs) and 9.05lbs (4.1kgs)
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 77
Sound 77
Build quality 68
Value for money 69
Overall Score 74
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
ESP LTD AS-1
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Coil Split Pickups
  • Strap Lock
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in Indonesia
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $850, which means that the ESP LTD AS-1 costs around 88% more than the competition. It might be due to it having additional features, but know that you can find cheaper similar alternatives. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in Indonesia.

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Videos

GAK DEMO : ESP LTD AS-1 FM Alex Skolnick Signature
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LTD AS-1 & AS-1FR ALEX SKOLNICK GUITAR REVIEW
LTD AS-1 Alex Skolnick Signature Guitar.
LTD Signature Alex Skolnick Review and Demo AS-1FMLB
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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Tuning stability

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Neck access to high frets

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Neck profile shape

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Fret edges

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Is it Easy to Play?

The ESP LTD AS-1 meets 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

ESP LTD AS-1
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the ESP LTD AS-1's construction is balanced for most hand sizes.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

How Lightweight is it?

We found that the ESP LTD AS-1 weighs between 8.7lbs (3.9kgs) and 9.05lbs (4.1kgs). This was recorded from some online retailers that publish the weight of the instruments they sell.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the ESP LTD AS-1's 24.75" scale length compared to other common sizes:

ESP LTD AS-1 Scale Length Comparison
ESP LTD AS-1's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale length used in most Gibson guitars. If you like the playability of a Gibson, this guitar will feel pretty similar. It's a lot shorter than the typical Stratocaster (25.5'')

As you can see from the picture above, a shorter scale length also means shorter separation between frets. If you got really small hands, you probably will feel more comfortable playing this guitar than a Fender Stratocaster.

This scale length also allows for easier bends and vibratos because the strings will have lower tension due to the shorter scale.

Finally, another thing affected by scale length is tone. A shorter scale will give less room for the harmonics, thus resulting in a warmer, more 'bassy' tone.

Still, remember that you string gauge plays an important part in all of this. A lighter gauge will make it easier to perform bends, vibratos and will also give you a brighter tone.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

ESP LTD AS-1 Neck Profile
ESP LTD AS-1's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a U type neck. This shape usually has more 'shoulders' than a C neck. It's great for guitarists who love the feel of a vintage neck. Most of them are thick, which makes it better for people with big hands. However, some of them can be thin like a C neck but with more mass to the sides for a better grip.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The ESP LTD AS-1 has a 12" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

ESP LTD AS-1 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
ESP LTD AS-1's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ESP LTD AS-1 has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

ESP LTD AS-1
This model
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

ESP LTD AS-1 Nut Width
ESP LTD AS-1 Nut Width

The ESP LTD AS-1 has a nut width of 43mm (1.693''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

The ESP LTD AS-1 has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

ESP LTD AS-1 Fret Size Comparison
ESP LTD AS-1's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The ESP LTD AS-1's frets are XL Jumbo size. These are extra-large frets, which are perfect for people who truly want the least resistance for techniques like vibrato, bending, tapping, and just playing fast in general. You won't be able to feel the fretboard with these frets, so if you press too hard you'll get the notes out of pitch. It might take a while to get used to them because of this.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 95
Chord Playability 65
Solo Playability 70
Playability 77

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Body, Neck
Pau Ferro wood pattern used for guitar building
Pau Ferro Fretboard

Mahogany Body and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Pau Ferro Fretboard: It's a beautiful wood used mainly for fretboards. It has a high density and looks very similar to Rosewood with its straight grains and dark brown color. According to Fender, it has a warm tone with a fast attack.

More made with the same wood:

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Seymour Duncan. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The ESP LTD AS-1's configuration is HH. With this pickup combination, you'll get warmer tones and more output than using single coils. Humbucker pickups cancel the noise that single-coil suffer from, which also results in a warmer tone. This pickup combination isn't only for high-gain music like Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. Their warmness is also popular for Jazz, Indie, R&B, Blues and more.

More with the same pickups

ESP LTD AS-1
This model
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Bridge Pickup
Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Bridge Pickup
Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2 Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Bridge Pickup
Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Fixed Bridge
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Bridge Pickup
Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Floyd Rose Bridge
Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 Bridge Pickup
Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N Neck Pickup

Versatility

It comes with the popular 3-way switch that is present in most guitars. For more versatility, players tend to prefer a 5-way switch, although it all depends on what you want to use your guitar for.

It has a Coil Split option. It allows you to 'split' or turn off pickup coils to get even more tones in combination with the pickup selector. When used with humbucker pickups, it'll reduce the output and increase their clarity, turning them essentially into single-coil pickups.

Diagram

ESP LTD AS-1 pickups switch and push knobs diagram
ESP LTD AS-1's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with HH configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Hard Rock or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 90
Sustain 85
Versatility 61
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 77

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The ESP LTD AS-1 is made in Indonesia. Many people prefer the quality of an Indonesian guitar over a Chinese. Respectable brands like Epiphone, Ibanez and Schecter are building in this country because of the great quality and lower price. Some people like to compare them to the ones built in Japan during the 80s, when Japanese guitar makers made a name for themselves.

Bridge

Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the ESP LTD AS-1 has a Bone nut. This material is one of the highest quality you can get. It provides excellent sustain and tune stability if cut well. The only disadvantage is that it's an organic material, so it's not consistent. Two different bone nuts, even if made from the same bone, will probably sound slightly different. However, bear in mind that this is only relevant when playing open strings.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Set neck joint. This type of neck joint consists of using different pieces of wood for the neck and the body of the guitar. Both pieces are then glued together. This is more expensive to make than a bolt-on neck, but it's cheaper than a neck-through guitar. Some people believe that this gives more sustain than a bolt-on neck due to both pieces having a 'better connection' than with bolts. Still, it's something difficult to prove.

However, this type of neck joint does have the disadvantage of not allowing you to easily swap the neck for another. This makes this type of neck joint less mod-friendly.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 65
Features 60
Quality Control 80
Build Quality 68

All Specs

ESP LTD AS-1
General
Brand: ESP LTD
Year: 2016
Configuration: HH
Strings: 6
Made in: Indonesia
Series: Signature
Colors: Yellow Burst
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Top: Flamed Maple
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Mahogany
Bridge: Tonepros Locking TOM & Tailpiece
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Grover
Fretboard: Pau Ferro
Neck Material: 3Pc Mahogany
Decoration: Blocks
Scale Size: 24.75"
Shape: Custom U
Frets: 22 XL Jumbo
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 43mm (1.693'')
Electronics
Switch: 3 Way
Knobs: Speed
Pickup Mods: Coil Split
Volume Controls: 2
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 (Humbucker / Passive)
Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1N (Humbucker / Passive)

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